Emotions and Car Accidents

The media often reports on distractions such as call phones as the cause of accidents. In many cases, poor driving or driver error are blamed for car crashes. While all of these are legitimate concerns on the road, driver emotion can also cause serious accidents that lead to fatalities, spinal cord injuries, head injuries, and other serious injuries. Emotions do not get much media attention, but these emotional states have all been linked to car accidents:

1) Boredom. Conditions such as stop-and-start traffic and long stretches of highway driving can cause rear-end collisions, since drivers who are bored can allow their minds to drift, resulting in lack of attention. To prevent this, consider varying your route each day and keep glancing around you during more boring rides to maintain attention on the road.

2) Anger. “Road rage” is a commonly-used term, describing an anger or aggression that often grips drivers in situations where driving is frustrating. Errors by other drivers, delays caused by construction or roadwork and other causes can all result in road rage. Aggressive or angry drivers, research has shown, tend to take more risks which can result in accidents. In rare cases, drivers in the throes of road rage try to assault or attack others. If you are angry, it is a good idea to wait until you are calm before getting behind the wheel.

3) Fright. A sudden surprise – an unexpected siren, an object suddenly on the road, a sudden noise, or a sudden problem with the car – can cause the driver to momentarily take all attention away from the road. A frightened driver may also brake suddenly or even swerve.

4) Emotional upset. It is dangerous to drive when emotionally upset, numerous studies have shown. If you have received bad news or have been in a confrontation with someone, do not get behind the wheel. If you are crying, your vision may be poor, and if you are upset in any way, your concentration is not fully on the road. Take a taxi or wait until you are clam before getting in the car.

5) Exhaustion. Many accidents each year are caused by drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel. Avoid driving when you are tired. Take a nap or seek an alternative method of transport – such as a taxi. When you are tired, your response times are as slowed down as if you were inebriated, so your chances of being in an accident when tired are much higher.

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